Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I don't FB, but I do have a new BFF. His name is Darrell Holland, and we connect via an ancient technology platform, the DVD. He does this great video training course that I can't afford but found out how to rent, one disc at a time, from a company called Smartflix.

I have some different options as far as learning to use my new lathe, but I'm trying not to bug the hell out of everyone I know with really stupid questions, so I'm relying on Darrell and an old college textbook and a coupla other resources to efficiently get me up to highway speed, and then I'll start bugging the hell out of everyone I know with semi-stupid questions. Actually, I already started that in the toolroom at work today.

Lathe and other general machining shit generally occupies all my free thought-time these days, of which there is precious little. But it's not frustrating or frantic, just fun and relaxed. I'm looking forward to turning things, but in due time. Having a machine tool in house has been a dream for a long time and learning to use it is just super rad, so I'm savoring every step of the process. I can pretty much guarantee that some way fun bikey krap will fall off the end of the cutter at some point. In due time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Methow Getaway

Patty comes from a family of connectors. Patty's mom could go to any city on the planet and strike up a conversation with someone she just met, and within a few minutes, they'd know someone in common. It was truly amazing. But every kid in the family shares the gift, which maybe is even more amazing.

So brother Doug connected with some really cool people in Winthrop over the last coupla years and we stayed at their place this past weekend and played in the Methow Valley. They happened to be out of town and turned their home over to us, even though we were pretty much strangers. The natural environment was spectacular, but it pales in comparison to the spirit of generosity and trust that we experienced.

The whole deal is just mind-expanding and makes me want to figure out a way to share and exchange what we have to offer. To do something different than the norm of carving out some safe little all-inclusive environment, that's just an illusion anyway.

No, I'm not going off the deep end. I see from your reaction that it's time to shut my trap, but I'll still be thinking about it.

Anyway, on a lighter note. After years of alpine skiing, this nordic stuff was a tough sell. But I think it's starting to take root.

From lower right, diagonally to upper left, then from super upper left diagonally down to mid right: Doug, Sue, Joan, Scott, Patty, Pat

Scott and Joan, posing in front of the super-cool suspension bridge that you ski across.

View from the suspension bridge.

Now them'r what I call tracks.

Patty's getting good.  Coupla times I was behind her and saw steam rolling off her skis.

Horses dig nordic.

The rolling huts. They're for rent. (They don't really roll.) They're super cool. (There are way better places to actually stay.)

Heated restrooms. Yum.

The scenery's a bit hard to deal with, but we did our best.

We give the weekend a double thumbs up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gran Fondo Ephrata

I went on an unexpected, unplanned google binge tonight.  "Sir, take your hand off the mouse and step back!"  Couldn't do it, though. I've heard plenty about the Beezely Burn.  But I didn't know about the Gran Fondo Ephrata.  A "mass-participation cycling event."  Heh.  Right.  They'd heave this mass participant violently off the back.

"It is designed to give riders a glimpse of some very remote, out of the way parts of central Washington.  In the spirit of remote and rustic central Washington, much of the route is primitive gravel roads."

Further fascination here and here.  Just 50 riders, so it seems wonderfully lunatic fringe and in-the-middle-of-nowhere-off-kilter.  And did I mention brutal.

"We pre-rode the course today. 48 miles of paved road, 30 of gravel 4700 ft of climbing. I rode on a Specialized Armadillo 23's at 90 psi. 5 miles in you hit gravel for 18 miles with one wicked 10-12 mile downhill section with speeds 30 + on hard packed dirt to loose gravel of all sizes, ruts, and a few washouts.....bunny hops worked...Then a long section of fast pavement, easy to hold a 22-24 avg, wind permitting of course, then a nasty nasty 6 1/2 mile section (60 mile mark) of hell road, gravel and 3 short STEEP (1/4 mile each) pitches I have compact cranks with a 12-28 rear and for every tire revolution I spun 1/4 moved 3/4, last pitch I spun out and walked 50-60 ft. few more climbs then a fast blast down sheep canyon then back in to Ephrata.

We finished at 5 hrs 15.8 mph avg, on the nose and we had one guy cramp pretty good and were slowed a bit, 4:30 is doable, a 4 hr mark can be done if you hammer and the winds stay down.

I will be buying a set of 700x 25 for the race, a set with light tread, no knobbys... Hope to see you all there, it will be fun."
Holy hell, so cool, so painful-sounding.  Just reading about it makes me wanna lunge for a barf bag.
Amidst my virtual travels, I also came across a certain picture. Boy, that guy on the right sure looks familiar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rackufacture: Introducing The Rack-O-Matic 5000

On the subject of rack fixturing, I've been sort of just getting by.

John pretty accurately describes it as "...this so totally half-ass-looking system of jigging up the bike and the rack with hunks of lumber and big clips that just seems impossibly error prone -- but it works really really well."

I don't know about really really well.  It's been working alright, but what a royal PITA.  The setup is all so fragile that if you even breathe on it the wrong way, it all goes sideways.  Apparently I hit the wall at shop night last week, fussing around with shims and bungees and all that krap, because my motivation to do something about it pegged out my OCD meter and I went all crazy on a concept that's been rattling in my noggin for a while.

Here are some shots from the multi-day fab binge:

The foundation.

Adding the upright to the foundation.  This will support and level the bike.

Trying to keep everything as square as possible.

Extensions for the main angle that the bike wheels rest in.  Mental error; I cut the main angle long enough to handle various wheelbases, but not long enough to have clearance for the levelling jack screws at the end.

Easy fix: just hack a chunk onto the end!

I spent a lotta time dwelling on the best way to level up the bike after it' been set in the fixture.  This is part of that.

Math always goes so much easier with beer.

Making some t-handle bolts.

Main angle's getting pretty long.  Where in the hell am I gonna store this damn thing?

Main angle bolted to the foundation and testing the levelling method.

Making the supports for the uprights.
Fitting the supports for the uprights to the main angle.

The main angle didn't have enough torsional rigidity, so I had to add some outriggers.  (That is the geekiest sentence I have ever typed, and it probably makes no sense whatsoever.  Next picture, please.)

I think I just won't say anything here.


So obviously, enough with the fab pics and geek speak.  Bottom line is that we put it to work last night at shop night.  We identified a couple a things right away that need to be improved.  But all in all, a success.  That's Joe's rear rack coming together.  Sweet.


It probably cost me a coupla hundred bucks and a boatload of hours, and so maybe it seems kind of crazy, but I just have this feeling that it's gonna be put to a lot of really good use.

Oh, and I was told in no uncertain terms that it has to be able to accommodate a mini velo. Whatever that is.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

5 Day Bender

Not the alcohol kind, the shop kind.

I'm wasted. Not in the alcohol way, in the shop way.

But I'm finally done.

First, there was the Braze-O-Matic 5000.

I don't know what 5000 stands for. But it's a good, strong number. So I'm rolling with it.

Maybe I'll put up some more detail after I recover.

No, I'm not putting a porteur rack on my mtb. Don't be a dumbass. It's a demo pic. Jeez.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Shopping Spree

For the current rack-related project.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Have This Idea

Which always means nothing but trouble.

It's bike related. But not in a racey way. I've been moving away from that for quite a while, and with no apologies. I just like to ride. (There. I just ejected a burr from under my saddle.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My New (To Me) Lathe

A big shout of thanks to all of you who validated my psychosis. What'n the hell kind of friends are you? Has no one got my back?

It's been building up inside and then at last week's hang, I couldn't keep it to myself anymore. I asked Glen what size lathe I might need. Then I emailed Alex with the same question. I do work in a building full of machinists, but I wanted to know what guys who do exactly the kind of work that I wanna do think. Size does matter.

Alex, being the guy he is, adopted my cause and went out on the interwebs to find me a couple of prospects. After that, things moved incredibly fast. I was out the door at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, pocket full of Franklins, trailer in tow, en route to Moscow.  Once there, a deal was made.  I headed for home with a buncha parts.

It has a couple of rough edges, but all in all, it's in pretty decent shape.  This was easily straightenable.

Oh btw, it's Chinese.  This is one of the upside-down pedestals.  They don't believe in wasting paint where it's not necessary.

The guy I bouht it from put some aluminum bars with levelling feet on the pedestals.  Sweet.

Here's the base, after some tuning up and assembly.

I don't know where it belongs in my shop yet.  I need to use it for a while to figure that out.  So I'm putting it on this skid, so I can move it around more easily.

I put this together to lift the lathe out of the trailer.

The pick.

The hang.


I can jockey it around with a pry bar,

or set it on rollers.

All this activity was taking up all of the garage shop, but the lathe and car are now both parked.  Peace once again reigns in the house.
It will take a while to get it all set up.  Even longer for me to get a clue about how to use it.  About the only thing you can be sure of is that I will bore you with an endless stream of details.

Monday, February 7, 2011

WTB: Road Bike

Patty's younger sister is looking for a road bike. Heather's athletic and very cool. This is so rad. Let me know if you've got, or know of, a bike that might fit the bill.

You can comment here or email to pat[dot]sprute[at]gmail[dot]com

Hey Pat, I am looking to buy a used road bike for me. For my vertically challenged 5 ft 4 frame! So if you could spread the word that would be awesome. I was hoping to spend around or less than $800. Ive been checking out craigs list also and have looked at bikes at REI so far. Im signed up for a sprint tri in Aug and really want to get into road biking. thanks and see ya monday for Patty's bday dinner!

Cheers, Heather

Friday, February 4, 2011

Words Worth Getting Out

My friend Sarah emailed to ask if I would help promote an event she's been involved in organizing. Sarah's cool, and I'm totally down with Complete Streets and Futurewise, so hell yeah. Take it away, Sarah . . .

My name is Sarah Sirott and I am interning for Kitty Klitzke with Futurewise of Spokane. We are hosting a Complete Streets Valentine Drop-In Event at the Community Building in Spokane on Friday, February 11, 2011 between 12:30 and 5:30PM. Attached is our invitation. Please help by posting the invitation on your blog and or calendar and help further the effort of a Complete Streets ordinance in Spokane by rallying all your readers together to support this great cause.

If you have any questions please contact me or Kitty at

Thank you for your time. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Clearly A Sign

I've been trying to ward off a bad case of lathe fever. The impending illness will certainly induce me to think I should own one. I've been battling it with Airborne, but to no avail, I'm losing ground and on the verge of resignation.

Truth be told, I haven't fought that hard. Diverting my gaze to the horizon, though, the next battle may test my mettle. Not sure Patty is down with either the expenditure or a new piece of equipment crowding her parking space. It's starting to get pretty tight in the garage shop.

I was starting to think I should just be a good husband and back off.  But then, out of nowhere, this . . .

For the last coupla days, something has not felt quite right in my "change pocket", which is my left front. I didn't pay much attention, but I remember noticing a texture or shape that I couldn't quite identify or that seemed vaguely out of place.

So tonight, I was buying something and reached into that pocket to see if I could come up with the 82 cent part of the deal and spotted this funnypenny . . .

all cool on the frontside

holy hell, all kinds of wtf on the backside

Dude, some crazy bastard, for some unknown reason, did that with . . . hell ya . . . a LATHE!  I don't know the history on this damn thing or how the hell it landed in my pocket, but don't you think I'd be totally effing stupid to ignore it???

I tried to share my excitement with the teenage cashier. She dug deep into her bag of retail skills in an effort to show she cared, but I'm pretty sure the moment was lost on her.

I hope it's not lost on you. This is huge.

I can't really go to Patty with this, so against my better judgement, I'm turning to you for advice.  I'm thinking karma-wise that I should release the penny back into circulation and that when I do get the lathe that I'm supposed to have, my first project should be to duplicate it and get a couple more out into circulation and that this will make things right. (and also protect me.)  This is crazy new territory for me, but the main point that yours and my relationship hinges on, going forward, is that we agree that I should have a lathe.  I do care what you say, though.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2nd Edition, Vol. II

The first edition was free-form and open ended.  It went 16 weeks or so and it was rad.  But there is only one first of everything.  This second session is about fine-tuning the process.  Eight weeks max, pretty much all business.  Come with a plan and leave with one for next week.  Homework is not out of the question, if it means staying on schedule.  Week one was intro to everything, get your basic design figured out and then braze something and hack it apart. Tonight was more brazing practice, and then a deck had to be built and brazed.  Joe's doing a rear rack for his Karate Monkey.

Eric, an 11 x 14 porteur for his utility horse.

Right on schedule.

You may be getting the impression I'm a heartless, killjoy slave-driver.  No comment.

Luckily Joe does his best to keep it light and fun by bringing along good music, thick coffee that tastes exactly like beer, and a special surprise tonight . . .

In a couple or so days, I should know if Peppermint Patty and Marcie made the right decision. The evidence will have to be convincing, as I'm not sure if anything could actually ever top the Laughing Bunnies.